The Climate is Counting Down: Less than 6 Years Until the Point of No Return

Imagine a clock, its hands sweeping ever closer to a time of reckoning. Not your ordinary timepiece, this is the “Climate Clock” and it’s ticking louder than ever. It hit an ominous milestone this past Saturday, dropping below the six-year mark. This countdown isn’t leading to a celebration; rather, it’s tracking how much time humanity has left before we deplete our carbon budget, the point beyond which global temperatures will rise above the crucial 1.5°C threshold.

As our planet’s alarm clock inches closer to midnight, global activists are amplifying their cries. They insist that hitting the five-year mark isn’t the end, but a stark reminder that we still have a glimmer of hope to curb the worst of climate change. They argue that the widespread belief that climate change impacts are a far-off future problem couldn’t be more misguided. The dire effects of climate change are not an impending crisis – they’re happening right here, right now.

Around the globe, we’re facing an era of unprecedented heatwaves, with locals in Malta dubbing this the “summer of hell”. Scientists continue to warn us about the catastrophic consequences if we keep cranking up the thermostat on Earth. On #ClimateEmergencyDay, activists took to the streets, demanding that governments and corporations act in time to meet our climate deadline and implement the necessary systematic solutions.

The Climate Clock team equipped activists with portable “action clocks” and digital codes for website clocks, spreading the urgency of the climate crisis. They’ve even installed gigantic clocks in major cities such as Berlin, Glasgow, Seoul, and Rome, underscoring the global scale of this issue.

New York City’s Union Square boasts one such display, unveiled almost three years ago. This past Saturday, activists gathered there, rallying for significant reductions in planet-warming emissions, particularly from fossil fuels.

Climate Clock co-creator Andrew Boyd urged the need for synchronization. We need everyone – the world, corporate and government leaders, and civil society – to align our watches and make concerted progress toward resolving this crisis.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the ominous countdown was projected on the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, along with an array of proposed solutions: the elimination of fossil fuels, protection of Indigenous territories, zero deforestation, ambitious climate commitments, and more.

Worldwide, people marched, protested, and shared their messages using the hashtag #ActInTime. From young Nigerians in Abuja to Tanzanian activists and scientists in Dar es Salaam, the call to action was loud and clear.

Online, people joined the cause by sharing images of “5 years” written on their palms, amplifying the call for urgent climate action.

Sabine Fuss, who heads a working group at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin, noted that structural change isn’t an overnight process. It requires years of commitment. This underscores the urgency for immediate action.

As parties prepare for the next United Nations climate summit, COP28, in Dubai this November, concerns continue to mount. Notably, the conference’s president-designate is the CEO of the UAE’s national oil company. Given the substantial role fossil fuels play in climate change, this raises serious questions about our global commitment to addressing this existential crisis.

The climate clock is ticking, and we can’t hit the snooze button. The time to act is now.